gemelle ristorante

Despite the number of restaurants I've accounted for on this blog, it seems like I hardly ever venture out to my side of town in Sydney's west. It's not that the food here isn't good, but it's just that my usual favourites of Japanese and Korean cuisine are nowhere to be found! Anyway for an early birthday dinner with my family we went for Italian, and I was quite impressed. Although it was a bit pricey and I almost never go fine dining, I'd definitely visit again! It's also not too far from where I live, which is always a plus.

Salt and pepper calamari with homemade tartare sauce; Sea scallops topped with toasted garlic panko crumbs and crispy prosciutto 

My mum is always raving about the salt and pepper calamari from this place, and rightly so. The fresh calamari was light, tender, and tasty, and has nothing on those calamari rings that you usually find in the shops! My first time trying sea scallops was also a treat. They were super buttery and soft, and went perfectly with a tangy salad of shaved fennel, rocket, citrus segments and pomegranate. Be warned though, the servings are quite large so my family ended up sharing two of each entree between us! In fact, when we finished we had doubts about whether we had room for the rest of our meal haha.


Fettuccine with Tasmanian smoked salmon, roasted capsicum, baby spinach, garlic and dill in a creamy white wine sauce; Pappardelle with a ragu of Osso; Gnocchi tossed with lobster, prawns, garlic and chives in a fragrant cream sauce

Don't be fooled by the seemingly small portions, because those plates were huge and so were the servings on them! Everyone went for pasta, because it seemed like the obvious thing to do at an Italian restaurant. Nevertheless you can also pick from mains like steak, fish, and duck if you're so inclined. I chose the gnocchi with lobster sauce, which seemed to be a resounding favourite across the board. I've never had gnocchi before but it was light, fluffy and everything it's racked up to be! Like biting into a soft pillowy cloud of potato-ey goodness, for lack of a better word. The creamy sauce also had a slight kick and was surprisingly nice with the lobster and prawn pieces throughout it.


Vanilla bean infused crème brûlée served with almond biscotti; Vanilla crepe parcel filled with ricotta and mascarpone cream

I'm a fiend for crème brûlée, so ordering this was a no-brainer! It came with biscotti and had a crispy exterior, unlike the rock-hard shells I've experienced at so many other places. The crepe parcel was great too – the ricotta and mascarpone cream was the definition of decadent, and had a strong flavour from the vanilla beans mixed throughout it. It was a bit tough to eat elegantly, but totally worth it!

Overall? I'd definitely come back to this place for round two. The staff were really nice and seemed to make a point of getting to know regulars, plus the place had a really quiet, chill atmosphere. A lot of the pizza and other dishes sounded really appealing too, so those will be going on my checklist!
Gemelle Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Posted by : Mani

thirty things about me

Considering I'm not an overly sentimental person, it's not surprising that my blog's fifth birthday passed by unbeknownst to me recently. I really can't believe it's come so far, especially since this was just a way for me to procrastinate from schoolwork at the start! Since it's creation the blog has become way less personal (probably for the better), but I still feel like it could use more posts about my daily life here and there. Anyway, I thought it was about time I share some random facts about me. After all, I'm super nosy and happen to love reading posts like these, plus it's always nice to know a bit more about the person behind the blog!


1. If you don’t know me personally, you might not know that my full name is Manisay. Mani’s just a nickname that everyone happens to call me, including people I barely know!
2. I’m 100% Laotian. A lot of people have no idea where/what that is, so it’s fun to let them guess from time to time.
3. I have two brothers and a sister, all of which are younger than me.
4. I’m a Gemini which supposedly points to the idea that I’m outgoing, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I couldn't even pretend to be sociable to save my life.
5. I’m a bit obsessed with Japan and love everything about the country, whether it be the language, the food, or the people… In fact I’m meant to go on exchange there in two years, so hopefully it works out!
6. I have a bad habit of becoming obsessed with musical soundtracks, even if I’ve never watched the musical in question.
7. I’m one of those people who are really precious about their stationery, and savour stickers and notebooks for as long as they can.
8. I’ve never dyed my hair, partly because my mum literally thinks the chemicals cause cancer.
9. I have my learners license but always put off driving because I despise it! It just gives me a really anxious, unpleasant feeling.
10. I’ve never broken a bone in my life.


11. I’m a massive sweet tooth, and much prefer baking or making desserts over food that will actually help me in the real world.
12. I'm terribly shortsighted and have worn glasses or contacts since I was nine.
13. I’ve always loved the idea of waking up to snow, and am forever lamenting the fact that I will never experience it in Australia.
14. I’d probably eat instant ramen everyday if it didn’t make me feel awful.
15. I used to have bangs for a good part of high school until I realised they looked terrible on me.
16. I’m a bit of a sucker for horoscopes, as silly as it sounds. For the record, the ones on Twittascope are pretty spot-on!
17. I seriously despise bananas and pears. It’s nothing to do with the taste, I just have texture issues with both of them! I also can’t stomach anything that contains blood or liver.
18. I try to avoid conflict as much as possible.
19. That’s my age, which makes me the year of the piggy.
20. I'm really interested in photography and graphic design as hobbies. I actually designed my high school yearbook, and it’s kind of sad but true to say that it's one of my few achievements!

21. I like my own company. Being home alone is a dream for me because it means that I'm free to do or eat whatever I want.
22. I love any movie with a good makeover sequence, so by default I'm obsessed with the Princess Diaries, Miss Congeniality, Pretty Woman, the Devil Wears Prada... you get the idea.
23. I spend too much time thinking about my next meal.
24. I find that I’m at my most productive during the early morning, like from 5-6am. So much so that during my HSC, I’d usually wake up then to study.
25. A lot of the time I overanalyse things and come up with scenarios that will never happen.
26. My ears are freakishly white in comparison to my face, but you just can’t see them because my hair always covers them.
27. I really dislike talking on the phone.
28. I much prefer trains over buses. Buses confuse me so much because I never know the routes or where to get off, especially in unfamiliar places!
29. I can't sleep with the lights on. Even if it's just my laptop charger, I need to cover it up or it'll bug me.
30. I have quite a short attention span, so I can’t believe I finished this!
Does anyone out there have something in common with me, or some quirks that are even weirder than mine? I'd be really interested in knowing!
Posted by : Mani

tweedle dee

Thrifted coat and t-shirt (available here), Zara skirt, Portland boots

If I had to categorise my wardrobe into two things, it would all boil down to a ton of black skater skirts and striped tees. There's just something so reliable about both of them, so much so that I usually have to restrain myself from overdoing it whenever I go shopping! My thought process was no different when I saw this tee in Salvos, but when I realised that it was originally from American Apparel I was pretty much sold. The crew neck style and softness is everything I want in a t-shirt, and while I probably wouldn't fork out the price of a brand new one, I'll still wear this one to death!

This coat is another one of my new favourite thrift finds. I'm not usually someone that mixes prints, but I'll make an exception when it comes to stripes since they're pretty much another neutral in my eyes. Anyway, I love how there are no bells and whistles to this coat, just some hidden fasteners that let the fabric speak for itself. Why don't they make them like they used to? With all the flashy buttons and leather panels on coats these days, sometimes I feel like the most basic of designs is something to be desired.
Posted by : Mani

classic scones

Aren't mums just an amazing bunch of human beings? I know I rely on mine all too often, so the least anyone can do to say thank you is to cook for them, clean for them... and learn to bake scones when they ask you to, duh. I'm a little late in posting this, but thank goodness scones aren't exclusively a Mother's Day treat! My mum's a tiny bit obsessed with them, so I can't say I was surprised when she requested it one day. Although, I was pleasantly surprised that they were easier to make than I thought, and tasted even better when fresh out of the oven. Just be prepared to reignite the age old debate of whether the cream or jam goes on first (obviously the cream does, but each to their own)!


    Recipe for basic scones adapted from Taste:
3 cups self-raising flour
1 tbs caster sugar
80g cubed butter, at room temp
1 cup milk, at room temp
Self-raising flour, extra

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced). Combine the self-raising flour and caster sugar in a medium bowl. Use your fingertips to rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. To help incorporate air into the mixture, keep the palms of your hands face-up as you lift the flour to rub in the butter.

2. Add the milk all at once, then use a butter knife or spatula to mix together using a cutting motion. Do this until the mixture is evenly incorporated and begins to hold together. Be careful not to over mix though! The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it's dry, simply add a little more milk, then bring the dough together with your hands.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently about 4-5 times until the dough is just smooth. Be careful not to overwork the dough, otherwise the gluten in the flour will develop and cause the scones to be tough in texture and heavy.

4. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until about 2cm thick. (Alternatively, flatten the dough with the palm of your hand). Use a round 5cm pastry cutter (or any old cup) to cut out the scones. Use a straight-down motion to cut out the scones and try not to twist the cutter, as this will cause the scones to rise unevenly.

5. As you cut out the scones, place them on a lined baking tray about 1cm apart. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with extra flour, then bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden and cooked through. If your scones sound hollow when tapped, they're ready. Alternatively, insert a skewer into a scone and see if it comes out clean.

6. Remove your scones from the oven and cover with a clean tea towel to keep them warm. Serve warm with jam and whipped or clotted cream.

You can throw all the chocolate chips and raisins you like at me, but I still think nothing beats plain scones in all their buttery glory! I'm sure the possibilities when it comes to topping these are endless, even though I'm not really adventurous and only ever go for the jam and cream option. Anyway, with these babies under my belt the only thing left for me to master is my own high tea arrangement...
Posted by : Mani

moving pictures

I don't know if I should blame the ridiculous amount of time I've been spending on Tumblr, but stationary images just haven't been cutting it for me lately. Although I've had assignments due left right and centre I've started doing a lot of procrasti-blogging there, and it definitely hasn't been one of my wiser decisions. In between scrolling I somehow convinced myself that I needed to relearn how to make gifs, so voila! Here are some cinemagraphs of things around my backyard. I have to say, that first image really takes 'shaking like a leaf' to a whole new level...

Aaand here are some trembling flowers after I poked them, only because the wind wasn't cooperating. Obviously my technique needs some perfecting, but hey! I'm looking forward to making more animations at Vivid this year, even if it means being that person who has to lug around and set up their tripod every five minutes. The things I do for photography...
Posted by : Mani

in the trenches


Design Studio trench coat, Ginger Tree gingham shirt, thrifted skirt and flats

No matter the situation, I think we can all agree that every outfit is improved with a coat over the top. I could honestly be wearing my sloppiest trackies and sleep t-shirt, but add a full length coat to the mix and bam! You instantly look put together and no one needs to know what you're hiding underneath those comfy layers. Part of the reason I love the wintry months is that a) it makes dressing so much easier and b) no one can judge you for wearing the same outerwear for five days in a row. Don't deny it, we've all been there...

This old trench coat from Myer is a bit on the thin side, which has its pros and cons. The material makes it good for the transitional weather, plus it suits my needs whenever I want to get my detective on while it's not quite cold enough outside. Ignoring the fact that I've spilt hot chocolate on it and lost a few buttons, it's still one of my favourite things in my wardrobe! The pared back design is something that I haven't been able to find anywhere else, so until I find a similar one that actually has a fighting chance against the cold I'll be living in this one for the next few months.
Posted by : Mani